March 2017

By Way of Proxy


Iran’s future war against the United States in Latin America

Volume 101, Issue 3

Capt Charles E. Broun

LtCol Gregory A. Thiele
Marines conduct humanitarian assistance operations in Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras as part of U.S. Southern Command’s security cooperation program.

Photo by Cpl Kimberly Aguirre.

The U.S. Department of State has stated that Iran’s influence is waning in Latin America; on the other hand, U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) and the intelligence community believe the opposite to be true.1 Continued focus by the U.S. on the Middle East since 2001 has come at the expense of Latin America. Partners in Latin America are frustrated by the low prioritization of the region, and they are turning to those who will listen to them, particularly Iran. Iran’s influence in Latin America is growing at the same time that American influence is waning and anti-American sentiment is growing. Compounding things, the Iranian-sponsored transnational terrorist group Hezbollah has established itself throughout Latin America. This combination of factors poses a threat to American interests and the stability of the region. This article will argue that Iran’s cultural, diplomatic, economic, and military penetration of Latin America demonstrates a rational, sequential process that places Iran in a favorable position to provoke U.S. military involvement. Furthermore, it will show that it is plausible that Iran, by proxy, could incite U.S. military involvement in Latin America in order to draw American attention and resources away from the Middle East.


The United States is hindering Iran’s nuclear and hegemonic interests. At the same time, the United States’ prolonged and substantial military presence in the Middle East since 2001 has drained American resources (blood and treasure) and public support for further meddling in regional affairs. It is in Iran’s interest to debilitate the United States in any way it can. A proxy war in Latin America would drive the United States to reallocate resources that would otherwise be allocated to the Middle East where Iran has its primary interests. Iran’s main proxy in Latin America is Hezbollah, which is aligned with drug cartels and other criminal organizations. With Hezbollah, Iran can, has, and will influence regional actors to act on their behalf for actions detrimental to U.S. interests. 


The Latin American political and economic environments are veering toward a populist, anti-American posture in which Iran is thriving. The governments of Venezuela (Hugo Chavez/Nicolas Maduro), Bolivia (Evo Morales), and Ecuador (Rafael Correa) have diplomatic, economic, and military ties with Iran. These three countries have led the way for the founding of a unified front against American intervention: the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of the Americas (ALBA). Furthermore, ALBA has created its own currency, the Unified System for Regional Compensations (SUCRE), which has as its purpose the overthrow of the dollar as the main currency in Latin America. The political and economic environment of Latin America is being exploited by Iran and permits Iran and its proxies freedom of movement throughout the region.



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Iran has penetrated, to some degree, all of Latin America in terms of culture, economics, diplomacy, and militarily. Iran and its proxies use cultural or religious centers to infiltrate communities in Latin America. Iran has a vast network of corporate fronts that it uses for laundering money and evading sanctions and international logistics. It has built military training facilities in Venezuela and Bolivia. At these facilities, the Iranians indoctrinate locals and further anti-American sentiment. In short, Iran has a foothold in Latin America, has relative freedom of movement there, and has a vast and diverse network in place that, once mature, will be able to organize, train, and equip proxies to further Iran’s interests. It is apparent that Iranian and American interests are at odds.


The United States has legal and historical precedence of military intervention when its interests and/or prestige have been threatened in the region. The Monroe Doctrine and its multiple interpretations (corollaries) have demonstrated that the United States has a legal precedent for intervention. In addition to the Monroe Doctrine, following World War II, the United States led the implementation of the Rio Treaty of 1947. The Rio Treaty is a collective defense agreement for the Americas, which is still in force, and requires collective intervention against aggression toward any of its members. History has shown that the United States will use military force to further its interests in Latin America; therefore, a substantial threat could trigger involvement. A possible catalyst for military intervention could be a threat to the Panama Canal. The canal is a major interest for the United States; therefore, if threatened or attacked, the United States would be forced to intervene. 


The above said, the United States has not intervened militarily to counter Iranian or Hezbollah influence in any significant manner. However, by presenting a clear threat to the homeland, major interests, or American pride, Iran and its proxies may provoke the United States to intervene. 


Primer on Proxy Wars


In this article, a proxy is defined as “a non-state paramilitary group receiving direct assistance from an external power,”2 whereas, proxy warfare is defined as “the indirect engagement in a conflict by third parties wishing to influence its strategic outcome.”3 In other words, actors who want to wage war use third parties as supplementary means or as a substitute for direct employment of their own forces.4 The main factor is the shared interest in weakening, defeating, or destroying a common enemy.5 As Thucydides argued in his history of the Peloponnesian War, states are motivated to wage war by fear, honor, and interest.6 However, there may be no political will for direct military intervention because of associated risks of defeat or escalation, lack of domestic or international support, aversion to loss of life, high financial costs of lengthy deployments, or other factors.7 In such cases, the option of sponsoring non-state actors to engage in war by proxy may present itself.8 Therefore, the rational decision for states worried about the political, economic, and social impact of direct military engagement is to avoid deploying one’s troops.9

Wars by proxy are as old as war itself. Thucydides tells the story about the civil war in Corcyra that triggered the Peloponnesian War in 411 BC. During the civil war, the Peloponnesian-backed oligarchy engaged the Delian League-backed demagogues of Corcyra.10 During the Napoleonic Wars, England’s Duke of Wellington used Spanish and Portuguese proxy fighters to counter the French occupation on the Iberian Peninsula from 1808 to 1813, as described by Clausewitz in On War.11 Finally, during the initial phases of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM (October to December 2001), the United States used the indigenous Northern Alliance (with the help of special operations forces and airpower) as a proxy force to fight the Taliban without risking a significant use of its own ground forces.12 Iran cannot afford to engage the United States with its own troops; therefore, it is plausible that Iran will further its interests via proxy, and Latin America provides the right environment to foment such engagement.


Latin American Socio-Political and Economic Environment and Iran


Since the ascension of Hugo Chavez in 1999, much of Latin America has been in the midst of another “Bolivarian Revolution.” The purpose of this revolution is to challenge the United States and the rest of the Western world’s “system of rule of law and representative democracy, and seeks to replace it with a new authoritarian model of governance.”13 As a critical step to further the revolution, an alliance of likeminded Latin American nations emerged, the Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, ALBA). Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro formed ALBA in December 2004. ALBA presents an alternative to the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA), and, since its inception, ALBA has dominated the political dialogue in Latin America.14 ALBA is composed of ten member states: Antigua & Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, St. Vincent & Grenadines, and Venezuela.15

In 2009, the ALBA nations implemented the Sistema Unico de Compensacion Regional (Unified System for Regional Compensation, SUCRE) as the common trade currency among ALBA nations. The SUCRE is a virtual currency intended to break the U.S. dollar’s hegemony in Latin American trade and replace it as the common currency.16 Much like the Euro, the value of the SUCRE is derived from a basket of currencies weighted accordingly based on the size and strength of the individual member economies.17

In order to shield itself against international sanctions, Iran has used virtual and international currencies.18 The SUCRE gives Iran an avenue to shield its financial and criminal activities in Latin America. Using the SUCRE, ALBA banks can bypass international financial authorities and give Iran a direct offset for its accounts without relying on U.S. correspondent accounts.19

ALBA’s relationship with Iran encompasses three connections: diplomatic, economic, and clandestine actions. In the diplomatic arena, Iran continues to receive diplomatic support from the ALBAs on votes at the United Nations. In addition, Iran now has 11 embassies across the region.20 Economically, Iran uses ALBA’s virtual currency, the SUCRE, to launder its sanctioned funds and gain access to U.S. dollars.21 At the same time, Iran provides a much-needed infusion of unrestricted funds to the poorer ALBA countries that can be used for political purposes.22 Finally, Iran uses the ALBA nations as clandestine ports of entry for its Quds Force and Hezbollah operatives. Once in country, Quds and Hezbollah operatives infiltrate criminal organizations in order to fund its worldwide operations and recruits, indoctrinates, and trains locals in order to bolster Iran’s paramilitary proxies in the region.23 In turn, ALBA enables a permissive environment for illegal drug trade and money laundering (Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador have become virtual narco-states).24 These shared interests and connections enable a relationship among odd bedfellows, “a revolution that will bring about what Iran’s ayatollahs, Chavez and Castro have called a “New World Order.”25

Iran’s Strategic Penetration of Latin America


Since the 1980s, we have seen Iranian activity in Latin America with its main proxy Hezbollah becoming entrenched in the “triple frontier” where Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina meet. In 1992, Hezbollah carried out a suicide bombing against Israel’s embassy in Buenos Aires, and in 1994, they bombed the Argentine-Israel Mutual Association, also in Buenos Aires.26 Although these actions highlight mostly the terrorist threat posed by Hezbollah, they indirectly illustrate Iranian interests in the region, to which the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, has declared openly that the Islamic Republic is committed to expansion in Latin America.27

Joseph Humire, from the Center for a Secure Free Society, argues: 


At the strategic level, Iran’s penetration [of Latin America] involves a gradual transition from an informal presence to a formal one, while simultaneously focusing on increasing military and paramilitary activities.28

He describes Iran’s penetration as a systematic, long-term operation divided into four phases. The first phase, “cultural,” commenced in the 1980s with a covert presence in a few countries under the cover of commercial and cultural organizations. This penetration enabled Hezbollah to embed in existing Islamic populations and establish infrastructure for collection and recruitment.29 Iran’s infiltration is deeply rooted in the use of cultural centers throughout the region. It has capitalized in outreach to indigenous populations throughout Latin America that represent the political base for Bolivia’s Evo Morales, Ecuador’s Rafael Correa, and Peru’s Ollanta Humala.30 According to SOUTHCOM, Iran has established over 80 “cultural centers” in a region that is overwhelmingly Christian.31 Supposedly, these centers are intended to improve Iran’s image and increase its political influence in Latin America. To further their cultural impact, in 2012, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting Company launched HispanTV, a Spanish-language television channel beamed from Tehran to 14 countries in Latin America.32

The second phase, “diplomatic,” began with the rise of the ALBA that enabled Iran to more than double the number of embassies in the region. At the same time, Humire notes that Iran


continued covert activities that allowed Iran to establish a command and control structure throughout the region, utilizing both its formal embassies and an informal network of regional mosques and Islamic charities.33

Hugo Chavez’s death did not hamper the relationship between Iran and Latin America. In 2009, both Venezuela and Bolivia broke diplomatic ties with Israel over its military offensive in Gaza. Bolivia’s Evo Morales has continued to solidify his relationship with Tehran and has hosted several high-ranking visits from Iranian officials, to include hosting the 2014 G77 Summit in Santa Cruz.34 In Ecuador, President Rafael Correa continues to expand his relationship with Iran and Syria. In 2014, Ecuador hosted an “Iran-Ecuador Parliamentary Friendship Group” that met in the capital, Quito, to discuss political and economic enterprises between the two countries.35

In the third phase, “economic,” once relations have been formalized with host nations, Iran commences economic aid (promised or actual) as seen in particular with Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua. Iran’s trade with Latin America has doubled from 2005, where it annually averaged about $1.33 billion, to 2012, where it averaged at $3.67 billion.36 In regard to raw materials, in the mid-2000s, Iran started uranium mining activities in Venezuela’s eastern border. In 2010, Tehran signed an agreement with Bolivia for the mining of lithium, tantalum, and thorium—all minerals used in the production of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.37


The final phase in the penetration, “military,” enters Iran into formalized military agreements with host nations. For example, Iran has signed multiple agreements with Bolivia and Venezuela that provide Iran “with dual-use materiel for its strategic programs, in exchange for military technology and training.”38 In May 2011, the Escuela de Defensa del ALBA (Defense School of ALBA) was established in Warnes, Bolivia. The intent of this school is “to provide political and ideological training to military leaders while instructing civilian leaders in the art of asymmetric military strategy.”39 Iran helped build, administers, and provides military advisors to this school, making Bolivia a base for Iran’s operations.40 In 2005, the Chavez regime opened two operations centers on Venezuela’s Margarita Island, both of which are operated by Hezbollah and Quds Force. In return, they have committed to train Venezuelan paramilitaries as well as FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) guerrillas in Colombia as demonstrated by the Iranian manuals found during a raid of a FARC camp in Ecuador in 2008.41 Humire concluded that, as of 2014, Iran had completed all the phases of its penetration in Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua. Now, Iran is initiating the process in the rest of Latin America.42

The Iranian relationship with Latin America is not only an anti-American crusade—it is a symbiotic relationship in which each benefits the other. Thanks to Venezuela, Iran has been able to establish itself in Latin America, where it can endure sanctions and preserve its hegemonic ambitions in the Middle East. Venezuela has benefited from Iranian pledges to Latin American governments by legitimizing the cause of the Bolivarian Revolution.43 Overall, the Latin American environment has provided Iran a sanctuary for expansion and lodgment for its proxies.


Iran’s Proxy in Latin America


Iran’s main proxy in Latin America is a Shia group that originally emerged from the 1979 Arab-Israeli conflict under a series of different names until finally consolidating the organization in 1985 into Hezbollah.44 Hezbollah has evolved into what the U.S. Department of State calls “the most technically-capable terrorist group in the world.”45 The Islamic Republic funds Hezbollah in excess of $200 million per year.46 Support comes in both cash as well as in the form of equipment, weapons, training, and logistical assistance. Hezbollah has an operational base in Venezuela that it uses for financial gain—drug trafficking and other criminal enterprises—and as a base to carry out attacks against Western targets.47 One such criminal enterprise was seen with the case of Lebanese-Colombian Ayman Joumaa, a kingpin of a large money-laundering network that enabled the movement of cocaine shipments from Mexico and Colombia to the Middle East, raising tens of millions of dollars for Hezbollah.48 Hezbollah has been in Latin America since the 1980s and had continued expanding with little intervention from the U.S.


U.S. Legal Justification for Military Intervention in Latin America


Derived from President Monroe’s 1823 address, the Monroe Doctrine declares three propositions: the non-colonization principle, the warning against European meddling, and the non-interference or isolation principle. The non-colonization principle declared that the 


American continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers.49

The second proposition warned against European meddling by stating, 


We owe it, therefore to candor and to the amicable relations existing between the United States and those powers to declare that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety.50

The final proposition declared the non-interference or isolation-principle, which, in the original message, stated, 


Our policy in regard to Europe, which was adopted at an early stage of the wars which have so long agitated that quarter of the globe, nevertheless remains the same, which is, not to interfere in the internal concerns of any of its powers.51

Since its inception, the Monroe Doctrine has been used throughout the years by multiple U.S. administrations as justification to use force against any threat to U.S. interests in the Americas. In 1904, President Roosevelt interpreted the Monroe Doctrine issuing a statement of U.S.-Latin American policy that asserted the right of the United States to intervene in a Latin American country in order to prevent European intervention, often motivated by debt collection. This interpretation (the so-called Roosevelt Corollary) transformed the Monroe Doctrine, from a defensive to an offensive doctrine of foreign policy in the Caribbean and Central America that became the basis of justification for U.S. intervention in Latin America for several decades after. 52

From 1930 to 1945, the Good Neighbor Policy temporarily discontinued the Roosevelt Corollary by calling for the recognition of “equality among American states, and emphasized collective and individual responsibilities for inter-American affairs.”53 However, in 1946, the Braden Corollary was instituted in order to prevent Argentina’s President Juan Peron from coming to power, with the justification that inter-American security was threatened by Peron’s fascist views.54 In 1947, President Harry S. Truman issued National Security Report #68, which ensured that American foreign policies would serve to protect American interests and that no geographic location and no means of protection could be ruled out.55 In the 1950s, the Kennan Corollary was instituted to prevent Soviet intervention in Latin America by any means possible, including backing dictators in the region.56 Finally, in the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan invoked the Monroe Doctrine (Reagan Doctrine/Corollary) as part of his anticommunist foreign policy. The Reagan Doctrine included supporting anticommunist guerrillas and fighting Soviet- and Cuban-backed regimes in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Reagan’s interpretation (“Rollback”) was used to justify the intervention in Nicaragua against the Sandinistas (by way of the Contras) and the 1983 invasion of Grenada.57

In 2013, Secretary of State John Kerry announced to the Organization of American States (OAS) that the “era of the Monroe Doctrine is over.”58 This assertion is representative of the Obama Administration’s policy toward Latin America, which has materialized in the scaling back of highly successful initiatives such as “Plan Colombia.”59 Nevertheless, just as the Good Neighbor Policy was abandoned before, one can imagine such a reversal with subsequent administrations.


A key treaty that justifies U.S. military intervention in Latin America is the Rio Treaty. Signed on September 1947 (ratified in 1948), the Rio Treaty (also known as the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance) provides that “any attack on an American nation will be met by collective sanctions in line with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.”60 The OAS last invoked the treaty against Cuba in 1962 and during the Dominican Civil War in 1965.61 More recently, in 2012, the U.S. Congress passed the Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act, which called for the development of a comprehensive strategy to address Iran’s penetration in the Western Hemisphere.62 Thus, the United States has legal and historical precedence of intervening in Latin American countries when it fears that its interests or prestige may be threatened. In Latin America, there are multiple areas that are of strategic interest to the United States, but the Panama Canal provides its own legal and historical precedence of U.S. military intervention.


The Panama Canal As a Possible Catalyst for U.S. Military Intervention


The Panama Canal has had a long history of U.S. military intervention. Moreover, international laws and treaties have backed all U.S. interventions. Ratified in 1977, the Torrijos-Carter treaty includes two parts: the Neutrality Treaty and the Panama Canal Treaty. The Neutrality Treaty ensures that Panama will not deny passage to vessels based on political leaning or involvement in a conflict. However, a condition was added by the United States, known as the “Deconcini Reservation,” which stipulates “the US can use military force in the event of closure of the Canal.”63 President George H.W. Bush invoked the Deconcini Reservation in 1989 for the invasion of Panama (Operation JUST CAUSE).64

The Canal is of great economic importance to the U.S. transit—it accounts for about 5 percent of world trade and links over 100 world trade routes. The United States relies on the Canal for commerce more than any other country. About 12 percent of U.S. waterborne freight and 15 percent of U.S. exports traverse the Canal. It’s estimated that over 65 percent of cargo transiting the Canal either originates or terminates in the U.S.65 Closure of the Canal, even if temporary, could devastate the U.S. economy. For example, after the attacks of 9/11, the U.S. closed its seaports and airports for a week. During that one week, container shipping lost over $1 billion a day.66

Multiple analysts and security experts agree that it would be fairly easy to close the Canal—an attack on any one of the locks or blockage caused by a sunken ship in any of the narrow cuts along the Canal would effectively close the waterway.67 This vulnerability stems in part from the disbanding of the Panamanian military in 1990. Today, the National Police Force, the National Air-Naval Service, and the National Border Service—which in all total to 20,000 effectives—primarily provide protection of the Canal.68 Still, they are, at best, a minor obstacle to any actor (state or non-state) committed to closing the Canal.


With such economic impact and vulnerability, the Panama Canal presents a formidable catalyst for U.S. military intervention. It is plausible that Iran and/or its proxies could incite other parties in the region to threaten the Canal, thus inciting a war that presents considerable gain and low costs to Iran with few benefits and high costs to the United States. For example, the Iraq War (2003–2011) cost the United States an average of $300 billion per year in direct and indirect costs and inflicted considerable damage on American national pride and international prestige.69 Even a fraction of these costs would divert resources from the Middle East, thus effectively giving Iran breathing room for its own interests.


Conclusion


Iran’s cultural, diplomatic, economic, and military penetration of Latin America shows a rational, sequential process that places Iran in a favorable position to provoke U.S. intervention. It is plausible that Iran, by proxy, could incite U.S. military involvement in Latin America in order to draw American attention away from the Middle East and to discredit the United States in the eyes of Latin Americans. 


Multiple Latin American governments have embraced Iran as a strategic partner. Iran has penetrated, to varying degrees, every country in Latin America. It continues to use a long-term, systematic scheme in the region through both direct and indirect methods. With their proxy, Hezbollah, Iran establishes cultural and religious centers, followed by formal diplomatic and economic relations, culminating in military cooperation and training.


The United States has legal and historical cause for military intervention in Latin America. From the Monroe Doctrine and its multiple corollaries to the Rio Treaty and the Panama Canal Neutrality Treaty, legal provisions exist that allow for and mandate American military intervention when its interests are threatened. In particular, the Panama Canal presents Iran with a formidable target for exploitation. Iran’s motives, however, are not clear with regard to inciting a proxy war with the United States. Nevertheless, its systematic penetration of Latin America suggests that military capacity in the region is desirable by Iranians.


Latin America encompasses everything south of the U.S. border (with the exception of a few English speaking countries). The United States’s disregard for Latin American has opened the door to other powers to intervene, filling the void. America’s involvement in the Middle East for the past 14 years has affected its economy and way of life at the same time the United States has enjoyed relative peace and stability in the Western Hemisphere. U.S. policymakers have become complacent. Any type of armed conflict in Latin America would create an economic and social crisis in the region that would require the American intervention. 


In that regard, Iran and Hezbollah may only be the tip of the iceberg of threats to U.S. interests in Latin America. Iran and Hezbollah have developed associations with major drug cartels, such as Los Zetas, and transnational criminal organizations (TCOs), such as Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13). These organizations present a major threat on their own, and the implications of Iran, its proxies, or other powers using cartels and TCOs only make the Latin American problem even more complex.


>Author’s Disclaimer: The opinions and conclusions expressed herein are those of the individual student author and do not necessarily represent the views of either the School of Advanced Warfighting or any other governmental agency. References to this study should include the foregoing statement.


Notes


1. Gen John Kelly, Posture Statement of General John F. Kelly, United States Marine Corps, Commander United States Southern Command before the 114th Congress Senate Armed Services Committee, Posture Statement, (Washington, DC: USSOUTCOM, 2015).


2. Geraint Hughes, My Enemy’s Enemy, (Portland, OR: Sussex Academic Press, 2012), 2.


3, Andrew Mumford, Proxy Warfare, (Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2013), 1.


4. Hughes, My Enemy’s Enemy, 2.


5. Ibid., 12.


6. Robert B. Strassler, The Landmark Thucydides: A Comprehensive Guide to the Peloponnesian War, (New York: Free Press, 1996), 43. 


7. Mumford, Proxy Warfare, 41.


8. Hughes, My Enemy’s Enemy, 5.


9. Ibid., 4.


10. Strassler, The Landmark Thucydides, 194–200.


11. Carl von Clausewitz, On War, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1989), 483.


12. Hughes, My Enemy’s Enemy, 3.


13. Joel Hirst, “The ALBA: Iran’s Gateway,” in Iran’s Strategic Penetration of Latin America, (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2014), 21.


14. Ibid., 22.


15. Ibid., 23.


16. Alex Perez, “Sanctions Busting Schemes in Ecuador,” in Iran’s Strategic Penetration of Latin America, (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2014), 51.


17. Ibid.


18. Ibid., 59.


19. Ibid., 56.


20. Hirst, “The ALBA: Iran’s Gateway,” 25.


21. Ibid.


22. Ibid., 28.


23. Ibid., 27.


24. Ibid., 29.


25. Ibid.


26. Ilan Berman, “What Iran Wants in the Americas,” in Iran’s Strategic Penetration of Latin America, (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2014), 2.


27. Ibid.,7.


28. Joseph Humire, “Anticipating Iran’s Next Moves,” in Iran’s Strategic Penetration of Latin America, (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2014), 95.


29. Ibid.


30. Berman, “What Iran wants in the Americas,” 4.


31. Gen John Kelly, Posture Statement USSOCOM, 2015.


32. Berman, “What Iran Wants in the Americas,” 4.


33. Humire, “Anticipating Iran’s Next Moves,” 96.


34. Jon B. Purdue, “A Marriage of Radical Ideologies,” in Iran’s Strategic Penetration of Latin America, (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2014), 18.


35. Ibid.


36. Berman, “What Iran Wants in the Americas,” 4.


37. Ibid., 5.


38. Humire, “Anticipating Iran’s Next Moves,” 96.


39. Adrina Oliva, “A Bolivian Base for Iran’s Military Advisors,” in Iran’s Strategic Penetration of Latin America, (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2014), 71.


40. Berman, “What Iran Wants in the Americas,” 5.


41. Sean Goforth, Axis of Unity: Venezuela, Iran & the Threat to America, (Washington, DC: Potomac Books, 2012), 148.


42. Humire, “Anticipating Iran’s Next Moves,” 96.


43. Goforth, Axis of Unity, 145.


44. Tad Drake, “Hezbollah as a Threat to US National Interests,” 2015.


45. Jeffrey Feltman and Daniel Benjamin, Assessing the Strength of Hezbollah. Testimony before the Subcommitte on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs of the Senate Committe on Foreign Relations, (Washington DC: US Department of State, 2010).


46. Jeanne Giraldo and Harold A Trinkunas, Terrorism Financing and State Responses: A Comparative Perspective, (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2007), 137.


47. Goforth, Axis of Unity, 149.


48. Hirst, “The ALBA: Iran’s Gateway,” 25.


49. David Dent, The Legacy of the Monroe Doctrine: A Reference Guide to US Involvement in Latin America and the Caribbean, (Westport, CT: Greewood Press, 1999), 3.


50. Ibid.


51. Ibid.


52. Ibid., 385.


53. Ibid., 383.


54. Ibid., 382.


55. Mumford, Proxy Warfare, 47.


56. Dent, The Legacy of the Monroe Doctrine, 384.


57. Ibid., 338.


58. Ilan Berman and Joseph Humire, “Crafting a Hemispheric Response,” in Iran’s Strategic Penetration of Latin America, (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2014), 104.


59. Ibid.


60. Dent, The Legacy of the Monroe Doctrine, 386.


61. Ibid.


62. 112th Congress, “Public Law 112–220: Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act of 2012,” (Washington, DC: GPO, 2012).


63. Kimberly Dannels-Ruff and Michelle Watts, “Security of the Panama Canal, One Decade after the U.S. Departure,” in Air and Space Power Journal, (2010).


64. Ibid.


65. Ibid.


66. Ibid.


67. Ibid.


68. Ibid.


69. Mumford, Proxy Warfare, 9.


LtCol Gorbea wrote this article while he was a student at the School of Advanced Warfighting. He is a special operations pilot and currently the Director, Air Force Special Operations Command’s Cochran Group.